Slippery slope - Metals struggle to find footing in 2013

Commodities report: 2013 roundup & gold, silver and copper performance 2014 outlook

TORONTO, Dec. 9, 2013 /CNW/ - Amidst write downs, drop in commodity prices and lower revenues, gold, silver and copper are among the most closely watched metals in the mining sector.  They are also some of the hardest hit metals in 2013, according to PwC's new Gold, silver and copper report.

Gold has been the big mining story of the year. The metal, which surpassed $1,900 per ounce in 2011, fell to around $1,200 this summer and prices are currently hovering not far above that.  The worst performing metal this year goes to silver - with prices plummeting 40% in 2013. As for copper, prices fell from $3.70 per pound at the start of the year to above $3 currently- becoming the metal that 'outperformed' this year.

Gold producers are preparing for another challenging year. Reflecting lower levels of confidence, 47% of gold producers expect the price to increase in the next 12 months, compared to 88% a year ago.

Despite being the worst performing metal this year, silver miners are optimistic for 2014 with only 9% anticipating the price of silver to fall further next year. Copper is expected to be stable with nearly two thirds of respondents (62%), predicting copper prices to remain the same in 2014.

Cutting back and keeping costs down
"After years of spending on mergers and acquisitions and expanding operations with money generated from high metal prices, miners are now cutting back," says John Gravelle, PwC's Global and Canadian mining leader. "Encouraging investors to return to the mining space will involve strict cost management strategies and responsible investment in production growth."

Managing costs and finding financing are among the top priorities for miners amid less optimistic future price expectations. According to the report:

  • Sixty-six per cent of mining companies cite  managing their spending as one of the most important business imperatives in 2014
  • More than half (54%) of miners say raising financing is critical
  • Less than a quarter of (20%) of respondents highlight mergers and acquisitions as something they plan to pursue

For the coming year, 53% of miners said they anticipate going to the equity markets to raise capital, while 29% expect to raise project financing and another 14% plan to raise corporate debt.

"While 2013 has been a tough year for miners, the industry has faith that fundamentals will recover," says Gravelle. "Gold, silver and copper may not reach record levels in the near future, but expect prices to increase alongside the stabilizing global economy."

Gravelle adds, "China's economic growth is expected to remain strong as it executes its reform agenda - providing hope for mining companies that continue to sell their commodities to the world's second largest economy. The gradual economic recovery in the US should also help increase long-term demand for commodities."

Annually, PwC surveys gold mining companies globally. This year, the firm included copper and silver companies from a cross-section of the more than 100 senior, mid-tier and junior companies. All dollar figures are in US dollars. For more information on PwC's Gold, silver and copper report, please visit PwC's mining site at: www.pwc.com/ca/mining.

LinkedIn: Join the PwC Mining Community www.pwc.com/ca/mining-linkedin

Follow PwC on Twitter at @PwC_Canada_LLP and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pwccanada.

About PwC Canada
PwC Canada helps organizations and individuals create the value they're looking for. More than 5,700 partners and staff in offices across the country are committed to delivering quality in assurance, tax, consulting and deals services. PwC Canada is a member of the PwC network of firms with more than 180,000 people in 158 countries. Find out more by visiting us at www.pwc.com/ca.

© 2013 PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, an Ontario limited liability partnership. All rights reserved.

PwC refers to the Canadian member firm, and may sometimes refer to the PwC network. Each member firm is a separate legal entity. Please see www.pwc.com/structure for further details.

SOURCE PwC Management Services LP

For further information:


Abby Yung
T: +1 416 687 8644
Email: abby.yung@ca.pwc.com

Kiran Chauhan
T: +1 416 947 8983
Email: kiran.chauhan@ca.pwc.com